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Sending Children Back to School During COVID-19

August 13, 2020
Sending Children Back to School During COVID-19 - Lark Health

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At Lark, we're here to support your mental and physical health, and dealing with major stressors is important. We wanted to share some different ways to think through the discussion around "back-to-school" season as a result. For parents, COVID-19 might mean tough decisions about whether they should send their children back to school for face-to-face learning, or whether they should keep their children at home for their lessons.

Making the Decision about Face-to-Face or at-Home Learning

To make an informed decision, parents need to understand their options. A traditional model includes children being on campus each day for school. A fully online or remote model has children completely off-campus. They attend classes remotely, such as through Zoom or other video conferencing platforms, and are likely to be at home for their lessons and homework. A hybrid model has elements of traditional and online learning models, and students may be on campus for a few days or hours weekly.

To make the decision, many parents are weighing the risks of COVID-19 with the benefits of going to school in person.

There are other considerations when deciding whether to send your children to traditional school. For example, as is the case with adults, it appears that overweight children are much more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than normal-weight children. In addition, younger children seem to be less likely to get COVID-19 and infect others compared to teens. 

Many parents have no choice but to keep their children home because they live in districts that have decided to only offer online learning, or in states that have forbidden campuses to reopen.

Risks of COVID-19 Benefits of School
  • Likelihood of children, especially older ones, being able to infect others.
  • Students may come home and be in contact with grandparents, other older adults, and certain high-risk individuals.
  • Socialization (learning social norms, though altered due to safety restrictions.
  • Free childcare to relieve parents, especially when working from home.
  • Free and reduced-price school breakfast and lunch for low-income students.
  • Potential for a better learning environment than a home environment.


Safety Checklist for Going Back to Campus

If you plan on sending your children to campus this fall, certain precautions may help reduce the risk of your children and teachers getting infected, and of you or your family getting it from your children.

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as well as state and local authorities can include the following. Keep in mind that individual schools and districts may have differing or additional guidelines and requirements. 

  • Following social distancing measures in the classroom and during breaks and lunch.
  • Wearing masks.
  • Sanitizing classrooms, bathrooms, and shared objects, such as stair banisters and door handles, frequently.
  • Having hand sanitizer readily available.
  • Eliminating lockers or assigning them "by cohort."
  • Keeping students home if they have a fever or any symptoms, such as a runny nose.

Packing Up

If your child is not depending on free or reduced meals at school, be sure to send lunch and enough snacks to get through the school day without needing to ask others to share. In addition, you may want to send enough water bottles for your children so they need not use the water fountain at school.

Masks and hand sanitizer are items on the back-to-school list that have been added for safety. Making them more appealing can help encourage students to use them. Hand sanitizers are available in cute packages and with nice scents, and masks are available in nearly every pattern imaginable.

In Summary

At the end of the day, you know what's best for your child, and the patience and fortitude that we've all had to develop while making new types of decisions during COVID-19 will help you through it.  

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